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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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109 Responses

  1. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm |

    Ha! ya, you’re not weighing in because the article has a particular spin. *rolls eyes*

    That aside, it does sound like you have an opinion, though it appears to be a contradictory one:

    The article itself says that legal and child welfare experts don’t think she did anything wrong, and that she had an ethical obligation to vigorously defend her client. I’m also skeptical because it largely reads like an anti-Clinton hit piece.

    This suggests if it is her job you think it is ok to “vigorously defend her client” (code words for demolishing any and every witness in any and every way legally possible).

    But of course I’m disgusted when attorneys impugn the credibility of rape victims.

    Also, as I’m sure you know, the vigorously defend the client comment is usually a cop-out in situations like this. The attorney need not take the case and, if they take the case, they can still tell their client that the approach of trying to impugn the credibility of this little girl is the wrong way to achieve the goal of winning the case. If, for whatever reason, they still feel forced by the client to try and destroy the credibility of the victim then, if they are actually disgusted, they usually can withdraw.

  2. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 7:03 pm |

    Please. We both know “vigorously defend her client” are code words for demolishing any and every witness in any and every way legally possible.

    The vigorously defend the client comment is usually a cop-out in situations like this. The attorney need not take the case and, if they take the case, they can still tell their client that the approach of trying to impugn the credibility of this little girl is the wrong way to achieve the goal of winning the case. If, for whatever reason, they still feel forced by the client to try and destroy the credibility of the victim then, if they are actually disgusted, they usually can withdraw.

  3. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm |

    sorry, thought I was editing the first comment. feel free to delete the first comment and this third one.

  4. dave
    dave March 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm |

    It is simple. A lawyer’s job is to defend his/her client to the fullest. That is what Hillary did.

    I am an Obama supporter, but I believe that this attack against Clinton is ludicrous.

  5. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 7:13 pm |

    Message received: you want a one way street on civility. so be it.

  6. zuzu
    zuzu March 5, 2008 at 7:18 pm | *

    She was court-appointed defense counsel. Was she supposed to *not* challenge the credibility of the complaining witness?

  7. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 5, 2008 at 7:21 pm |

    I have to say, it’s pretty weak tea. The perpetrator is dead, the victim’s mother is dead, all of the evidence was destroyed in a flood, they couldn’t access the record of the other guy who was tried as a juvenile, and yet it’s “proof” that Hillary doesn’t really care about women or children?

  8. wilde
    wilde March 5, 2008 at 7:22 pm |

    If she was acting as a court appointed attorney, she didn’t have much choice in taking the case. And if she had to take the case she does have an ethical obligation to defend her client as best she can within the bounds of the law, and that does include trying to undermine the credibility of any and all prosecution witnesses. Such is the nature of our adversarial system.

  9. oljb
    oljb March 5, 2008 at 7:23 pm |

    I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know, but I wasn’t under the impression that court-appointed defense attorneys can just pick and choose what cases they want to take. A defense lawyer is a Constitutional right. As an Obama supporter, I likewise think this is a BS line of attack against Clinton.

    Furthermore, it’s not like our justice system doesn’t have its share of abuses on the prosecution side. Do we really think it’s a good idea to make it easier for governments to prosecute? If defense attorneys didn’t impugn the credibility of prosecution witnesses, fairly or unfairly, that would be the effect.

  10. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 7:28 pm |

    Good point zuzu. If she’s court appointed she probably cannot withdraw.

    However, she still has virtually total discretion in how she zealously represents her client. So it is her choice to decide whether the best interests of her client are served by aggressively attacking a 12 yr old girls credibility or doing it in other ways.

    Moreover, while Jill is correct that more specifics are needed to know just what she did, it sounds as though she attacked the girl in ways that may today be impermissible thanks to changes in the rules of evidence pushed by feminist groups. Even if today those tactics are not per se impermissible they sound like they may be within the spirit of what feminist groups wanted the rules of evidence to prohibit.

    I think, if accurate (and it is speculation without more), it is anecdotal to the way many, myself included, perceive hillary (and bill). As doing any and every thing possible to get whatever they want. Still, it’s only anecdotal and while I’m disgusted by them, I think there’s a legitimate argument to be made that machiavellian ruthlesness can be a good trait for a leader. Rubs me the wrong way, but can’t deny that some positives extend from it.

  11. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 5, 2008 at 7:33 pm |

    Not to mention that the story itself says that the victim undermined her own credibility by lying to detectives and changing her story. Stuff like that makes it much easier for the defense to claim that the victim is unreliable in other details of her story.

  12. Sickle
    Sickle March 5, 2008 at 7:39 pm |

    Since I help defend sex criminals and rapists as a PI, I should weigh in here. First of all, we always attempt to assess the credibility of the accuser, and anything we find (good or bad) we dutifully send off to the attorney we’re working for. It’s distasteful work, but it has to be done. The credibility of the accuser is paramount to defending rape cases. And although only a handful of my cases involved false accusations, they do happen.

    If we find stuff that’s good for the client, attorneys will try to get that in front of a judge or a prosecutor, usually through court filings. Reciprocal discovery is a relatively new concept as it applies to the defense and isn’t law in all states, so it’s not out-of-the-ordinary that Clinton would’ve mentioned facts in an affidavit that the prosecution wasn’t aware of. (Nowadays, all my reports for counsel are discoverable, even phone conversations.)

    Ultimately, though, the case didn’t even head to trial and Clinton secured a good deal for her client. Nonetheless, it involved a guilty plea, suggesting that whatever problems there were with the alleged victim’s testimony, there was still enough there to make Clinton advise that her client take the deal.

    This exposes a little-discussed but nonetheless important issue when dealing with rape victims: prosecutors don’t handle them very well. In a lot of jurisdictions, there are specially-trained investigators who work for the government interviewing victims and serving as liasons between the victims and the government, juvenile and adult—sort of like how we as PIs “handle” witnesses and advocate for their needs against attorneys with other agendas. Anecdotally, it appears to me (through my experience) that jurisdictions with these kinds of specialty services have a much easier time proving their cases in court.

  13. km
    km March 5, 2008 at 7:52 pm |

    The issue doesn’t seem to be whether it’s appropriate to undermine the victim’s credibility. It’s how Clinton did it that’s at issue. Clinton claimed the girl had cried wolf before. The investigator doesn’t recall evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks. The records have since been destroyed. So, it is possible that Clinton went too far in her advocacy but there doesn’t seem to be any way to know. Without more, this seems to be a non-issue.

  14. Sickle
    Sickle March 5, 2008 at 8:06 pm |

    Moreover, while Jill is correct that more specifics are needed to know just what she did, it sounds as though she attacked the girl in ways that may today be impermissible thanks to changes in the rules of evidence pushed by feminist groups. Even if today those tactics are not per se impermissible they sound like they may be within the spirit of what feminist groups wanted the rules of evidence to prohibit.

    I disagree. From reading the article, it would appear that nothing Clinton did was impermissible at all. Although I’m not familiar with the particulars of Arkansas’ rape shield law, it would be absurd to believe that the victim’s relationship with the 15-year-old boy is off-limits; he was, after all, a witness to the assault and, it appears, a perpetrator as well. Rape shield laws do not protect the victim from prior inconsistent statements or her own testimony, either. The “spirit” you refer to is the use of a victim’s sexual history as innuendo (and, by extension, “evidence”) that she was “asking for it” (so to speak), as well as concerns about keeping the victim’s identity confidential to the general public (but not to defense attorneys, of course). I don’t see how anything Clinton did was improper either by ethical standards or by rape shield laws.

    Keep in ming that I’m not an attorney myself. ZuZu may know more.

  15. Astraea
    Astraea March 5, 2008 at 8:18 pm |

    This didn’t even go to trial, so Clinton didn’t even use the defense in court. The fact that they can’t even get child welfare professionals to criticize her tactics as defense attorney doesn’t make their case very strong. Using one case as a defense attorney 30 years ago to “prove” that Clinton’s the cold ambitious bitch who’ll do anything necessary to further her ambition is really pathetic. Especially the way they stress that she worked so hard, and the bulldog remarks.

    I want a president who will actually work hard to get something done!

    Plus, she went on to create the first rape crisis line in her state and there’s no record of the guy offending again.

    Compare that with the rapist that was deliberately released by Huckabee for purely political purposes and DID go on to rape and kill again.

  16. azok
    azok March 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm |

    Astraea and others,

    to be clear, i don’t think even if she did grill a little girl in a way that people might find improper, I don’t think it is a reason to not vote for her. I do think it’d be just another of many examples which illustrate her ruthlesness, but so what? With, or without, this, that view still exists.

    And yes, no one is putting this out to the general public for any other reason than to attack her character in a sensationalist and thus, largely inappropriate, way. Of course, since she’s done the same to so many others over the years (including obama now) I don’t care as much as I otherwise would.

  17. exholt
    exholt March 5, 2008 at 8:32 pm |

    From the story, it seems she did what she was legally and professionally obligated to do.

    If anything, it would seem from my non-lawyer perspective that defending the client with insufficient or non-optimal zeal as a court-appointed attorney is an obligation one is bound by when taking the oath at the local bar.

    If Clinton did not defend her client with the utmost zealousness as azok seems to call for, I can easily picture Clinton being brought before the Bar Ethics committee and disbarred for violating her ethical and professional duty to serve her client to the best of her ability. If she then manages to run for president the MSM would now be having a brouhaha over her lack of professionalism and respect for the legal profession and the disrespect/danger she poses to anyone who believes in due process and the rights of all defendants to competent counsel.

  18. exholt
    exholt March 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm |

    In short: The MSM is placing Clinton in an extremely unfair catch-22 no-win situation.

  19. Sickle
    Sickle March 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm |

    …even if she did grill a little girl…

    As the article makes clear, it was the police “grilling” the little girl and who had her in tears. No one has ever said that Clinton herself ever questioned the victim herself or by proxy.

    This is how these dishonest memes get started, azok. Be careful what you’re saying here.

  20. Manju
    Manju March 5, 2008 at 9:35 pm |

    I thought Clinton was “vetted.”

  21. Manju
    Manju March 5, 2008 at 9:41 pm |

    I think Clinton has to defend her client. The accused has constitutional rights. But ever since I saw this…

    “‘I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing,’ wrote Rodham, without referring to the source of that allegation. ‘I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.’

    “Dale Gibson, the investigator, doesn’t recall seeing evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks.”

    …on Andrew Sulivan I was wondering what your response would be.

  22. Three Dollar Bill
    Three Dollar Bill March 5, 2008 at 9:49 pm |

    Was she supposed to *not* challenge the credibility of the complaining witness?

    Were the Duke rape defendants supposed to *not* challenge the credibility of their accuser?

  23. mythago
    mythago March 5, 2008 at 9:51 pm |

    Unethical advocacy is what happened in the Haidl case, where the defense attorney harassed the victim out of court. (Happily, he is now under investigation for both that and his part in a corruption scandal.)

    Questioning a witness’s credibility is not unethical. Why would it be?

  24. Three Dollar Bill
    Three Dollar Bill March 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm |

    But this case never went to trial either. I am not making a point about the Duke case, I am making a point about shifting the standards. If it’s wrong to tear down rape victims, even to defend someone in court, then it’s wrong.

    Is it wrong?

  25. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth March 5, 2008 at 10:16 pm |

    God help me. The sooner this primary is over the better. I second everyone else who said she did what she had to do, let’s move on. The right to counsel is in the constitution. One of my neighbors actually had a case like this. After acquitting his client who probably raped a teenage girl, he knew it was time start practicing a different kind of law. Do I blame him? No, so I can’t blame Clinton either. I blame the prosecutor, the rapist, and while I’m at it, the patriarchy.

  26. Lauren
    Lauren March 5, 2008 at 10:53 pm |

    Something about this makes me think this argument is like the liberal flip-side of pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, but I’m failing to make the analogy.

  27. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm |

    As the article makes clear, it was the police “grilling” the little girl and who had her in tears. No one has ever said that Clinton herself ever questioned the victim herself or by proxy.

    The article is also clear that the victim had no idea until the reporter told her that the defense counsel was Hillary Rodham. Since she was 12 at the time, I’m not surprised that she didn’t know all of the machinations that got them to the plea bargain, and there was no reason for her to have ever met the defense counsel since the plea bargain happened before the case ever went to trial.

    I think the Post investigated this case hoping to find a Huckabee-like instance of Hillary getting a criminal released who then went on to attack someone else. Unfortunately for them, the guy never re-offended, so they were stuck with this story that doesn’t go anywhere.

  28. signthelist
    signthelist March 5, 2008 at 11:50 pm |

    But it’s about Hillary, so the story goes everywhere. Just like when she sobbed girly-girl tears of emotion and weakness all over reporters.

  29. dave
    dave March 6, 2008 at 12:25 am |

    I thought Clinton was “vetted.”

    She has, for the most part, which is why we get this non-story in an effort to attack her.

  30. alchemi
    alchemi March 6, 2008 at 12:31 am |

    I’m a law school graduate but not an attorney, so take my opinions with a grain of salt, but…

    I would expect Clinton to zealously represent her client. He particularly asked for a female attorney and there were few available at the time. The court asked her to take the case, and even if she were able to pass (due to distaste or inexperience) it would have been the wrong thing to do. My expectation is that all attorneys have the civic duty to accept such assignments (maybe not to the point of unreasonableness, but that it would be some minor betrayal of civic duty not to do so).

    Once she took the case, she had a lot of discretion in how to handle it. I think aggressively questioning the witness, even to a degree that Jill expressed disapproval of, could be appropriate, but I would hope she would hesitate to do so unless necessary to provide a competent and constitutional defense.

    I agree with the earlier commenter that the real issue, which is unresolvable, is whether Clinton signed a affidavit that was not accurate or did not reflect evidence she did not have. She appears to have been a scrupulous attorney, though, so I suspect she would have had it and the evidence was just destroyed.

    (btw, full disclosure, I’m an Obama supporter).

  31. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 1:03 am | *

    Jill, maybe you could elaborate on what you find objectionable? Because even the victim recognized that she was doing her job:

    With all the anguish she’d felt over the case in the years since, there was one thing she never realized – that the lawyer for the man she reviles was none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    “I have to understand that she was representing Taylor,” she said when interviewed in prison last fall. “I’m sure Hillary was just doing her job.”

    The stuff about credibility hinged on alleged history of making false accusations, which is absolutely relevant when any witness is testifying on any matter. There’s a big difference between impugning a rape victim’s credibility by attacking her for prior false statements and doing so by attacking her for having had sex with other men or with the perp on other occasions.

    Also, having read the article: she was appointed by the judge and couldn’t refuse.

  32. Holly
    Holly March 6, 2008 at 1:41 am |

    It’s impossible to know where this alleged history of making false accusations came from, which the victim was clearly shocked to hear about. There’s no evidence that even remotely suggests Clinton came up with any of that, and if she was presented with it as evidence, it was her duty to present it to the court in defense of her client.

    It seems crystal clear to me that Clinton was acting appropriately given the fact that she was appointed to this case and had to do her job and provide a constitutionally mandated service to her client. If people have a problem with how it went down, they really have to spell out exactly what their problem with the system is, and how they think an ethical person should have behaved in the same circumstance — appointed by a court to provide a zealous defense. Even if some rules about rape cases have changed since then — what should a defender in 1975 have done? Go on to create a rape crisis line, perhaps?

  33. mythago
    mythago March 6, 2008 at 1:53 am |

    If it’s wrong to tear down rape victims, even to defend someone in court, then it’s wrong.

    Bill, is anyone claiming that, in defending her client, Hillary said “women always lie about rape” or “this girl is a slut and had it coming”?

  34. Nathan
    Nathan March 6, 2008 at 2:26 am |

    I’ve just graduated from law school, and I’m starting in criminal law. I’ve never done a sexual assault case, but I have spoken about it with prosecutors and defence lawyers who have.

    Every lawyer I’ve talked with has agreed that if you are defending a “he said/she said” sexual assault case, like this one, and your client tells you the victim is lying, you have to challenge the victim’s story. That will almost always mean questioning his or her credibility, if there are legitimate issues to raise about it.

    Especially if there were “serious inconsistencies in [the victim's] statements about the incident” it would have been incredibly incompetent for Clinton not to have challenged her credibility.

    There are a lot of criminal lawyers who simply won’t defend people accused of sexual assault for this reason. It sounds like Clinton wouldn’t have if she had a choice. But I can’t see how Clinton could competently defend this case without examining potential credibility issues.

    I’m no fan of Clinton, but unless you want to disqualify every lawyer who has ever defended someone accused of rape from public office I think this article is incredibly unfair. Clinton was doing her job the only way she could. It might be a crappy system, but it’s not fair to blame a court appointed defence lawyer for that.

  35. Three Dollar Bill
    Three Dollar Bill March 6, 2008 at 2:54 am |

    There is something to what Nathan says.

    The timing of the article is also very suspect. I question it. Why now?

  36. Ivy
    Ivy March 6, 2008 at 3:47 am |

    This guy (the defendant) is no Tom Robinson, but it seems to me that Hillary was put into an Atticus Finch sort of situation — she HAD to question the victim. Was Atticus doing the wrong thing by vigorously questioning Mayella Ewell, even reducing her to tears? We know that he did not like doing it, but he could not shirk his duty to Tom, and then the evidence turned up that it was Bob Ewell all along.

    Obviously, the situation is not the same because one is literary and the other is a presidential candidate, but the fact remains that if Hillary was appointed, she HAD to do what she could, and had she done any less she would be worthy of no one’s respect. I am an Obama supporter, but this is a point for her, in my opinion.

  37. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 6, 2008 at 10:47 am |

    Frankly, I find it troubling that she accused this girl of habitually making false accusations when there was no evidence of that at all. And while she may have been doing her job in asserting that a 12-year-old who’s allegedly attracted to older men (and who had a crush on the 15 year old) is somehow not capable of being raped, or more likely to lie about being raped (and yes, that’s the inference I took from it).

    IF this girl ACTUALLY had a history of making false accusations or compulsive lying, that would be one thing. But she didn’t.

    If HRC–or any lawyer–wants to zero in on the inconsistencies of someone’s story, go for it. That’s their job. But there’s a world of difference between that and making false statements about the girl.

  38. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 11:00 am | *

    Frankly, I find it troubling that she accused this girl of habitually making false accusations when there was no evidence of that at all. And while she may have been doing her job in asserting that a 12-year-old who’s allegedly attracted to older men (and who had a crush on the 15 year old) is somehow not capable of being raped, or more likely to lie about being raped (and yes, that’s the inference I took from it).

    IF this girl ACTUALLY had a history of making false accusations or compulsive lying, that would be one thing. But she didn’t.

    We don’t know that for sure. We have an affidavit on one side saying Rodham had information that the girl did lie, and we have the now-woman on the other saying she didn’t. There *was* a psychiatric examination done (the goal of which was to determine whether she *did* make stuff up), but those records were destroyed in the flood.

    Keep in mind as well that nowhere did Rodham accuse the girl of being a liar just in general. The purpose of the affidavit was to lay out the information she did have and request a psych eval to see if there were any truth to it.

    It’s an uncomfortable line for a lawyer and a feminist to walk, but rape defendants, like all other criminal defendants, are absolutely entitled to a competent and vigorous defense. And she wouldn’t have been doing her job if she didn’t examine how credible the complaining witness was. And if she had information that indicated that the girl had made prior false accusations of bodily harm, then she was required to explore them.

    I would also caution anyone from drawing conclusions on this from a news story that uses incomplete information from a 30-year-old case for which half the participants are dead and a large number of the records are destroyed. Especially when legal experts — and even the victim herself — don’t see anything wrong with what Rodham did.

  39. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 11:04 am | *

    The timing of the article is also very suspect. I question it. Why now?

    Because she’s running for President, and the press hates her.

  40. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe March 6, 2008 at 11:12 am |

    I don’t see that Hillary did anything wrong. The only defense attorney who ever got to defend completely innocent clients every single time was Perry Mason.

  41. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 11:17 am |

    I am shocked that this part of Clinton’s past has received so little coverage from the mainstream media, and now such simpering and half-hearted reactions among the commenters here.
    It is not a “non-story” at all. Hillary chose to prosecute a 12 year old girl, a sixth grader and defend the 41 year old man who raped her in the back of a pick-up beside a busy highway. There was an eyewitness and there was evidence (semen), the girl was so traumatized that her mother rushed her to the hospital – but this was nothing compared to the horrors of her trial.
    It is one more example of a culture that condones rape, that blames the victim of sexual crimes. Hillary argued that the girl fantasized about older men (she must have LOVED being raped then, huh?) and subjected her to psych exam after psych exam. She tried to commit suicide at age 13 after the damages of the trial.
    The fact is that this story has not “gone everywhere” because it is about Hillary. The right wing doesn’t give a shit about young women being trampled by a lawyer who is doing the “legally allowable” thing. But the fact is, Hillary’s actions were IMMORAL and harmful to all women who are subjected to sexual abuse and rape in our country.
    The moral of this story is that Hillary doesn’t balk to step on the weak, that her priorities were on her personal career trajectory over the fight for women’s rights and justice.
    I would be disgusted at this sort of action from anyone.
    It is just even more heartbreaking to see an educated and intelligent female politician indulging in such anti-feminist victim-blaming.

    http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did=6276
    http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/ny-usark245589997feb24,0,2934440,print.story

  42. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 6, 2008 at 11:38 am |

    “IF this girl ACTUALLY had a history of making false accusations or compulsive lying, that would be one thing. But she didn’t.”

    It would help if we knew where that was coming from, though. As Mnemosyne at #8 points out:

    “The perpetrator is dead, the victim’s mother is dead, all of the evidence was destroyed in a flood, they couldn’t access the record of the other guy who was tried as a juvenile, and yet it’s “proof” that Hillary doesn’t really care about women or children?”

    The victim doesn’t know where that information came from, and we no longer have much other way to tell where that information came from. We can accept that she doesn’t have a history and that the statement to the contrary is false, but the statement isn’t sourced–there’s no way to say whether Clinton was acting badly by accepting it as true or how credible/disinterested the source was.

  43. The Raving Atheist
    The Raving Atheist March 6, 2008 at 11:52 am |

    It is wrong to tear down rape victims, even to defend someone in court.

    Calling the complaining witness a “victim” begs the very question implicated by the defense. If the defense is correct that the girl is lying (however statistically unlikely you may believe this to be) then it’s perfectly ethical to tear her down because she is not a victim, but a victimizer who is destroying someone’s life. Cases like that involving “victims” such as Tawana Brawley may be rare, but they happen.

    Susan Smith murdered her two children and blamed it on a black carjacker. Had such an individual been arrested, it might have seen ghoulish to “blame the victim” — a mother whose two children were murdered — but obviously it’s not something that should have shielded her from all criticism or suspicion or criticism.

  44. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 6, 2008 at 11:59 am |

    I never said that rape defendents shouldn’t have a vigorous, competent defense. However, I stand by my post. Dave Gibson, the investigator in the case, never saw any evidence at all that this child fabricated stories of attacks.

  45. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 6, 2008 at 12:25 pm |

    Dave Gibson, the investigator in the case, never saw any evidence at all that this child fabricated stories of attacks.

    That’s not what the story says:

    Dale Gibson, the investigator, doesn’t recall seeing evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks. The assistant prosecutor who handled much of the case for Mahlon Gibson died several years ago. The prosecutor’s files on the case, which would have included such details, were destroyed more than decade ago when a flood swept through the county archives, Mahlon Gibson said. Those files also would have included the forensics evidence referenced in “Living History.”

    Again, there’s a lot of innuendo in the story, but very few facts. Not to mention that the reporter seems pretty willing to believe the testimony of the 15-year-old boy who first said that he hadn’t had sex with the girl at all, and then admitted it but claimed that what he did was consensual but that the rape was committed by his uncle.

  46. Rei
    Rei March 6, 2008 at 12:56 pm |

    I don’t think it’s a choice between “The girl really did have a history of lying” and “Clinton fabricated a statement to help her defense.” The third option involves an unreliable witness reporting to Clinton. In cases like this there’s always some gossip willing to talk smack about the victim. Couldn’t the fifteen year-old have gotten a junior-high relative to tell lies to the defense attorney? The source of the statement could even have been either of the two accused. Given that, wouldn’t Clinton have an obligation to try and get some support for that line of defense? It was just an affadavit, written to get the kid a pyschiatric evaluation which, frankly, is always a good idea for a victim. The victim didn’t even see it till these oh-so-nice reporters inflicted it on her. There’s no Mayella moment- Clinton didn’t make a traumatized child cry on the stand- the case rushed to a plea, and it was Judge Cummings who knocked down the prison sentence after interviewing the defendant. Every single icky quote is from that single July 28th affadavit- and the language is damn mild when you compare it to most victim blaming.

    My feeling is- it’s gross, but she had to do it.

  47. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 1:08 pm | *

    It is not a “non-story” at all. Hillary chose to prosecute a 12 year old girl, a sixth grader and defend the 41 year old man who raped her in the back of a pick-up beside a busy highway. There was an eyewitness and there was evidence (semen), the girl was so traumatized that her mother rushed her to the hospital – but this was nothing compared to the horrors of her trial.

    Did you read the article?

  48. Jasi
    Jasi March 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm |

    It’s a hit piece. I’d love to know what really happened. This seems too conveniently biased against her.

  49. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm |

    It’s an uncomfortable line for a lawyer and a feminist to walk, but rape defendants, like all other criminal defendants, are absolutely entitled to a competent and vigorous defense.

    Yes, I do believe that evil, bastard rapists deserve a competent and vigorous defense.

    But I made the decision when I got my license that if push came to shove I’d happily surrender it rather than do something like this to a rape victim. It’s just a job. Sure…I’ve invested years of my life, my heart and soul to some extent, and a great deal of money – but at the end of the day, I can get another job. I can’t participate in a system that essentially psychologically tortures rape victims. I’ve known too many of them.

    I don’t expect other lawyers to feel the same way I do…but I do question the empathy of any human being who could imply that a 12 year old little girl is a promiscuous liar who was asking for it.

  50. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm |

    We have an affidavit on one side saying Rodham had information that the girl did lie, and we have the now-woman on the other saying she didn’t.

    All Rodham admitted to was that she had received information from a third party. We have no indication as to whether Rodham believed this information or would have used said information. I know that when I correspond with the lawyers that we testify for (my boss serves as a medical-legal expert witness), I have to be very careful in my wording as my emails and similar correspondence wind up in court documents and sometimes in testimony.

    We don’t know how she received the information *or* it’s relevance to the affidavit. Or do we? Did I miss a link?

  51. Sickle
    Sickle March 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm |

    I never said that rape defendents shouldn’t have a vigorous, competent defense. However, I stand by my post. Dave Gibson, the investigator in the case, never saw any evidence at all that this child fabricated stories of attacks.

    I’ll point out that Dave Gibson was not Clinton’s investigator; he worked for the DA’s office. Since reciprocal discovery is relatively new, it’s very likely that Clinton had information the DA didn’t when she presented it in her affidavit. The prosecution’s investigator’s recollection here isn’t necessarily relevant. The article also makes clear that the prosecution had trouble with her testimony and she wasn’t truthful with them, either.

  52. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 2:19 pm | *

    We don’t know how she received the information *or* it’s relevance to the affidavit. Or do we? Did I miss a link?

    You didn’t miss a link. There’s a lot that’s simply unavailable. Any discussions she would have had with witnesses would have been privileged, so we don’t know how she got the information. Also, a great deal of the relevant public information was destroyed, so we don’t have that either.

    All we have is what was filed in court, such as the affidavit. The information was relevant because the affidavit was filed in support of an application to have the girl examined by a psychiatrist to find out whether or not she did lie.

    But I made the decision when I got my license that if push came to shove I’d happily surrender it rather than do something like this to a rape victim. It’s just a job. Sure…I’ve invested years of my life, my heart and soul to some extent, and a great deal of money – but at the end of the day, I can get another job. I can’t participate in a system that essentially psychologically tortures rape victims. I’ve known too many of them.

    Considering that the victim had no idea that any of this was going on until the reporter told her, I don’t think that this amounted to “psychological torture.” And it was made clear to Rodham that she could not refuse the assignment because it came from the judge. Technically, she could have refused, but then she would have shot herself in the foot in terms of the work she had chosen to do.

  53. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 2:24 pm |

    Zuzu,

    Whether the girl knew it or not at the time isn’t clear. She didn’t know it was HRC, but I don’t remember the name of my sixth grade teacher. What is clear is that she was in a great deal of psychological pain and HRC had no way of knowing that the prosecutors were going to accept a plea or that the victim would not be aware of the accusations made in those court filings.

    Then she would have shot herself in the foot in terms of the work she had chosen to do.

    My point exactly. How important is a job? Is it important enough to call a rape victim (and she was 12, there’s pretty much no doubt she didn’t consent) a promiscuous liar?

  54. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 2:33 pm |

    My point exactly. How important is a job? Is it important enough to call a rape victim (and she was 12, there’s pretty much no doubt she didn’t consent) a promiscuous liar?

    But did she call her that? She said she had information that someone else said that. There’s a big difference.

  55. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    But did she call her that? She said she had information that someone else said that. There’s a big difference.

    You’re right. I misspoke. How about:

    Is it important enough to imply a rape victim is (and she was 12, there’s pretty much no doubt she didn’t consent) a promiscuous liar?

  56. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 2:43 pm |

    In response to what has been said today:

    First, apologies for saying “prosecute” – I meant her attacks on the victim during the trial, as I think was clear to anyone who read my posting.

    Secondly, yes, I read the article. In fact, I sent the link to the author of this blog hoping that she would post it, which she did., sparking this debate. But thanks for asking. There’s no need for rudeness, we are talking about something important to selecting a new president in a time of crisis for our country.

    I am not arguing that Hillary did anything illegal, or even against common legal practice. I am simply stating that she made the choice to defend someone she felt was guilty of heinous sexual assault against a twelve year old. She is quite open about this in her book, for those who care to read more about the incident. She knew it was morally wrong, but she did it anyway because she was advised by a judge that it was in her own career interests. I find that reprehensible and disgusting.

    “She was vigorously advocating for her client. What she did was appropriate,” said Andrew Schepard, director of Hofstra Law School’s Center for Children, Families and the Law. “He was lucky to have her as a lawyer … In terms of what’s good for the little girl? It would have been hell on the victim. But that wasn’t Hillary’s problem.”

    The personal attacks made on the young girl are typical of victim-blaming in rape cases – she was drunk, she had sex with someone else first consensually, she fantasized about older men, etc. We’ve heard these things before and they are all too common in rape trials.
    While these remain common and acceptable practices there can be no doubt that we are condoning rape and excusing rapists. This case is important because of the thousands of others that don’t receive media attention.

  57. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 2:48 pm | *

    Is it important enough to imply a rape victim is (and she was 12, there’s pretty much no doubt she didn’t consent) a promiscuous liar?

    Evidence, pls.

  58. Marked Hoosier
    Marked Hoosier March 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm |

    THis case shows me that Hillary is ALWAYS held up to a higher standard than ANYONE.

    Even if she walked on water, people would point out that her shoes got wet so technically…

  59. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm |

    “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing,” wrote Rodham, without referring to the source of that allegation. “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”

    Dale Gibson, the investigator, doesn’t recall seeing evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks.

  60. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 2:51 pm | *

    First, apologies for saying “prosecute” – I meant her attacks on the victim during the trial, as I think was clear to anyone who read my posting.

    First, you’re going to have to specify what “attacks” you meant. Second, there was no trial. There was a plea hearing, during which the judge not only did all the questioning of the victim, but he also tried to get Rodham to leave the room to spare her delicate sensibilities.

    I am simply stating that she made the choice to defend someone she felt was guilty of heinous sexual assault against a twelve year old. She is quite open about this in her book, for those who care to read more about the incident. She knew it was morally wrong, but she did it anyway because she was advised by a judge that it was in her own career interests. I find that reprehensible and disgusting.

    Considering that in her career in Arkansas, she went on to found the state’s first rape hotline, I can’t share your disgust at her wanting to be sure she could still practice law by not refusing the judge’s direction to take on the case.

  61. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm |

    Evidence directly from linked Newsday article:

    But the record shows that Rodham was also intent on questioning the girl’s credibility. That line of defense crystallized in a July 28, 1975, affidavit requesting the girl undergo a psychiatric examination at the university’s clinic.
    “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing,” wrote Rodham, without referring to the source of that allegation. “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”

    Dale Gibson, the investigator, doesn’t recall seeing evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks.

  62. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 2:54 pm | *

    Dale Gibson, the investigator, doesn’t recall seeing evidence that the girl had fabricated previous attacks.

    As Sickle pointed out above, Dave Gibson was the investigator for the district attorney. The district attorney is not entitled to the work product of the defense attorney, because that’s privileged as well as protected by the Constitution. So if she conducted her own interviews with witnesses and obtained this information, Dave Gibson would never have known about it. Ergo, his lack of recollection of ever seeing such evidence doesn’t mean anything.

  63. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 2:54 pm |

    I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing,” wrote Rodham, without referring to the source of that allegation. “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”

    Implications:

    “a tendency to seek out older men” – promiscuous & wanted it

    “engage in fantasizing” – liar

    “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.” – liar

    Come on….if this was stated by anyone else we’d be pissed. I get that she was just doing her job. I’m not saying she’s a horrible person. But I am saying that she did attack the victim if only by implication. Why deny that?

  64. Danakitty
    Danakitty March 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm |

    If she had to do it because it was court ordered, then she had to defend her client. Fortunately it didn’t go to trial, and I can’t imagine anyone would WANT to do rape cases. But it happens and you have to do what you can.

    With any case, you have to examine the facts. Yes, it sucks to question people about uncomfortable situations, but that’s part of a job. Again, Clinton wasn’t trying to put the girl in jail for lying, she was just trying to defend her client, as was her job.

    Secondly, that doesn’t compare at all to a case like this: where the attorneys kept silent even when they knew their client admitted to being a murderer.

    I’ll admit, I am a Clinton supporter, but I’m also tired of the media trying to pull up the “past” of a candidate in order to discourage people from voting for either Obama or Hillary. I mean, let’s look at Bush’s past… drove a few companies into the ground, C-student, alcoholic… yet he can be elected.

    Obama and Clinton have much much much better credentials, IMO. And sometimes a job makes you do things you don’t want to do. Was Clinton supposed to give up her career or her job or her credibilty as a lawyer because she didn’t want to defend a (possible) rapist? I don’t think so.

  65. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm |

    “I meant her attacks on the victim during the trial, as I think was clear to anyone who read my posting.”

    …but there doesn’t appear to have been a trial. Her client pled out. Was she even one of the people to question the girl?

  66. exholt
    exholt March 6, 2008 at 3:01 pm |

    How important is a job?

    To some people with crushing law school/education debt or hoping to get the training/experience necessary to pursue an area of a profession they actually want to do, extremely important.

    Unless one is talking about jobs/careers that are illegal or unquestioningly against the greater public good, such a question as the one posed above reveals more about the questioner’s socio-economic privilege and classist attitudes than anything else.

  67. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 3:06 pm |

    But I am saying that she did attack the victim if only by implication. Why deny that?

    Because if she was legally required to admit to obtaining that knowledge then she isn’t implying a damn thing – she is only saying, in an affidavit, that she has received this information. She is repeating what someone else said. That is the meaning of “I have been informed”. Rodham never said she had evidence of the girl’s previous behavior. She is saying she has evidence that someone else has witnessed certain behaviors from the girl. She is not saying whether she believes this or not.

  68. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 3:13 pm |

    She is repeating what someone else said.

    So a newspaper quoting an informant that says the victim of a rape was a stripper isn’t *implying* anything? That’s completely disingenuous. How was her “tendency to seek out older men” relevant to this rape case in any other context than to imply that the girl was looking for this sort of thing?

  69. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm |

    one posed above reveals more about the questioner’s socio-economic privilege and classist attitudes than anything else.

    My, that was snotty. As it happens I grew up white (so privileged in that context), poor, in a community that believed the best I could do is be a ministers wife, and a family that had never seen a woman finish high school without getting pregnant. I scraped my way through college on a full scholarship and two jobs and went $150k in debt to pay for my three years in law school (even though I also worked after the first year). So…would you like to revise that hurtful opinion?

  70. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm | *

    Jesus, Kristen. Have you never seen an affidavit before?

    She files it, as the attorney, upon information and belief supplied to her by others. She’s not saying she has personal knowledge, and she’s not saying she believes it. What she’s saying is that she’s gotten information which raises a question about the complaining witness’s truthfulness. Not that she’s a promiscuous lying slut.

    And she’s using this information to ask for a psych exam to explore these allegations, not setting it out as fact.

    I’m glad you feel secure enough that you can throw away an entire career over one case, but not everyone has that luxury.

  71. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 3:22 pm |

    What she’s saying is that she’s gotten information which raises a question about the complaining witness’s truthfulness

    And again…how does her supposed “tendency to seek out older men” reflect on the question of truthfulness?

  72. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 3:25 pm | *

    I would imagine it goes to the defense, given that the defendant was an older man.

    But go ahead, hang her on the basis of one snippet of an affidavit in a hit piece 30-odd years after the fact.

  73. Ursula L
    Ursula L March 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm |

    But the record shows that Rodham was also intent on questioning the girl’s credibility. That line of defense crystallized in a July 28, 1975, affidavit requesting the girl undergo a psychiatric examination at the university’s clinic.
    “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing,” wrote Rodham, without referring to the source of that allegation. “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”

    She had been informed of this. That may or may not mean it is true – that may or may not mean she believed it. It may well mean that she was unsure about it – not sure whether to believe it or not, and therefore wanting better information to sort it out.

    But if she was informed of such a thing, she’d be obliged to use that in the defense.

    Asking for a psychological evaluation, before trial, strikes me as one of the least abusive ways to use the information. It would be private, and far more respectful of the girl’s dignity than trying to figure out the truth when she was on the witness stand – and if the evaluation showed no credibility problems, she would not have to use the information later. She didn’t take the information as true – having heard it, she wanted to be certain before using it one way or the other.

    The fact that there was a plea-bargain suggests that this might be what happened – psych eval showed that the witness wascredible, (or that the information that she might not be credible itself turned out not to be credible) and that made making a deal, rather than using the claims as a defense to get the charges dropped or an acquittal, the correct course for her client.

    She didn’t, for example, hang on to the information and use it to tear down the witness at trial, in some sort of grandstanding. She didn’t go public with it. She didn’t rush in saying that what she heard must be true, and that the girl must be lying.

    Also, this is an affidavit, not a press release. You expect frank discussion of the case in affidavits. I’d be concerned if she’d somehow dragged this out in public.

  74. Holly
    Holly March 6, 2008 at 3:31 pm |

    There seems to be some agreement in this discussion that defending someone accused of rape or sexual assault is both vital to the ethical, constitutional functioning of our legal system, and also potentially very odious and wrenching at a personal level. In other words, it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it. Someone has to provide the accused with as competent a defense as possible, and advocate that side of the case. So it’s not a simple matter of refusing to do something that’s clearly wrong: someone has to do this job, or yet another harm has occurred. Would we really think better of Clinton if she had refused her orders in this case, and left the job for someone else to do? I can’t really see that as a moral choice as much as an avoidant one. (Not to mention one that would have harmed her own ability to make a difference in the future.) Would we think better of her if she took the case, but did a half-assed job because of the inherent contradictions involved?

    These kinds of things are the stuff moral dilemmas are made of. There’s no shining, bright, correct choice here, since the defendant absolutely should have had the best defense possible. Of course, we should and do have a problem with what the definition of “the best defense possible” is. And that definition has actually changed between 1975 and now, in cases like this — but for the people who have to discharge their duty as part of the system, they have to work with what they’ve got. This is not the same thing as a military office commanding a soldier to shoot an innocent person, either; the defense of a someone accused of rape is an important and ethical duty to fulfill. It ought to be made LESS odious through rules about what kind of evidence or implications are or aren’t permissible, but of course that’s not exactly a straightforward matter either. And quite probably, the reason those rules continue to change over time is probably in part because of the experiences of attorneys like Clinton and others. Heck, maybe Clinton herself, since obviously the negative parts of this experience stuck with her to this day.

  75. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 3:33 pm |

    I am truly sorry to see that this conversation has devolved into narrow-viewed semantic/legal nitpicking.
    The details of the case are now fuzzy – that much at least is clear and has been pointed out repeatedly. It needs more research, obviously.
    The importance of the subject, again, is how this single case relates to many others, how rape victims are treated in our legal system and cultural attitudes towards their cases. When women are treated in manners similar to this case, it makes it extremely difficult for them to come forward and press charges. It does nothing to counter the rape culture we live in.
    It is disappointing to see Hillary’s actions as part of the problem for women and children’s rights, rather than the solution. It is true, of course, that she was part of founding the first rape crisis hotline in Arkansas – she has done much good in many situations, I never denied that.
    This is a complicated matter and I am glad to see so many people commenting – I just hope that we can all step back to see the larger picture.

  76. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 3:36 pm |

    I would imagine it goes to the defense, given that the defendant was an older man.

    But go ahead, hang her on the basis of one snippet of an affidavit in a hit piece 30-odd years after the fact.

    Goes to the defense? Exactly…goes to the ‘she was asking for it’ defense. You and I both know how these thing work. We draft these documents carefully using all of the rhetorical techniques we have at our disposal, including using people’s biases to subtlety influence their impressions of a case. There was no other purpose for that snippet than to do just that.

    Besides who said anything about hanging her. I don’t want to hang her. She did her job. She wasn’t kind about it, but lawyers aren’t supposed to be kind…we’re supposed to get results. At the end of the day, I probably wouldn’t want to sit down to have drinks with her (not that she’s ever asked)…but that doesn’t mean I want to hang her. I just don’t see why she get special treatment.

  77. mythago
    mythago March 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm |

    But I made the decision when I got my license that if push came to shove I’d happily surrender it rather than do something like this to a rape victim.

    You might want to consider happily surrendering it now. Because you seem to think that this issue is “a job”. It’s not. It is your duty, if you are representing somebody accused of a crime, to vigorously defend that person without violating your duty of ethics and your duties as an officer of the Court. What you’re saying here is that if you had information suggesting the person accusing your client of rape had credibility issues, you’d either dump your client or keep your mouth shut.

    Stick to Mergers and Acquisitions, please. It pays better and I hear that there aren’t any ethical issues beyond deciding which client gets the bill for the sushi lunch.

  78. mythago
    mythago March 6, 2008 at 3:39 pm |

    marlisa, you would like to dismiss the ethical issues Hillary faced as “legal nitpicking” because it gets in the way of your advocating for some other candidate. If you were any more transparent you could paint your back silver and go as a Magic Mirror to Halloween parties.

  79. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 3:45 pm |

    Kristen, I admire your doggedness on this, but I don’t think you are understanding the nature of affidavits.

    We don’t know how she got the information, but this is a possible scenario: someone wrote her a letter outlining behaviors they had witnessed from the girl in question. This immediately puts Rodham in an ethical bind. Since she is the lawyer in this case, she cannot pass judgment on the truthfulness of the claims – afterall that’s the court’s job. But she is tied by legal ethics to report that she received this information, especially if there was a subpoena of communications/records. She is also ethically charged with representing her client, who she may or may not believe, and is circumscribed by our entire legal system in so doing. She is not a free agent in this matter.

  80. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 3:52 pm |

    The importance of the subject, again, is how this single case relates to many others, how rape victims are treated in our legal system and cultural attitudes towards their cases. When women are treated in manners similar to this case, it makes it extremely difficult for them to come forward and press charges. It does nothing to counter the rape culture we live in.

    You mean like the way you’re treating Hillary because she’s a woman who happens to be running for President? Shame on her, eh? You seem to think that if she has the temerity to think of herself as a leader she needs to have been 100% teflon coated for her almost 60 years of living in a misogynistic culture. Gah.

    The “importance of the subject” is how this country still can’t get over it’s 200 years of dick-fest leadership and will tear down women for the same thing they’re slapping each other on the backs for. Personally I’m glad she’s had to face ugly ass ethical dilemmas. I’m pretty sure it’s part and parcel of leading a country.

  81. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 3:53 pm |

    marlisa, you would like to dismiss the ethical issues Hillary faced as “legal nitpicking” because it gets in the way of your advocating for some other candidate. If you were any more transparent you could paint your back silver and go as a Magic Mirror to Halloween parties.

    Woah – Sorry for offending you, sincerely.
    But I have to say that was pretty rude, I am simply trying to engage you all with an article that I found compelling, complicated and important.
    The “semantic/legal nitpicking” that bothers me is the back and forth on “imply” vs. “call”, “attack” vs. “prosecute” etc . . . I don’t have a legal degree, I know I am fallible and I apologize when I communicate poorly. It just saddens me to see cattiness in these comments instead of civil discussion.
    Your hurtful and rather bizarre insult is further evidence of such a trend.
    I have supported Hillary for months, actually, and do not support another candidate, so whatever transparency you accuse me of – – sorry, but you’ve oversimplified and misunderstood me.

    Please go back and read the article again, instead of attacking me.

  82. Manju
    Manju March 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm |

    Because she’s running for President, and the press hates her.

    Newsday has endorsed Hillary.

  83. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 6, 2008 at 4:01 pm |

    “Exactly…goes to the ’she was asking for it’ defense.”

    Wasn’t the defense that it didn’t happen, not that it was consensual? I might have missed something–there’s only so many iterations of “that bitch!” I can read around in 4 pages–but it sounded like the adult defendant’s version of events is that they never pulled over, not that she agreed to have sex with him.

  84. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm |

    You mean like the way you’re treating Hillary because she’s a woman who happens to be running for President? Shame on her, eh? You seem to think that if she has the temerity to think of herself as a leader she needs to have been 100% teflon coated for her almost 60 years of living in a misogynistic culture. Gah.

    The “importance of the subject” is how this country still can’t get over it’s 200 years of dick-fest leadership and will tear down women for the same thing they’re slapping each other on the backs for. Personally I’m glad she’s had to face ugly ass ethical dilemmas. I’m pretty sure it’s part and parcel of leading a country.

    Jesus.
    Do you really not hear what I am saying? I am not your condemnable anti-feminist, I have spent huge amounts of energy defending her against sexist attacks in my daily life and I continue to be outraged daily at her treatment by mainstream media. What outraged me about this case is exactly what you said, that she has done the same thing they slap each other on the back for. Don’t you think that’s why something like this doesn’t get more coverage? It’s nothing unusual, but it should be.
    We should criticize her for what she deserves to be – embedded and complicit in misogyny. Being a woman, even a woman whose life is all about political power, doesn’t exempt you from that.

  85. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 4:08 pm | *

    Newsday has endorsed Hillary.

    Newsday’s editorial board endorsed her. So did the Times’, and yet they still run Maureen Dowd’s hit pieces on her.

    Marlisa, perhaps you could stop telling everyone that they’re merely nitpicking and read what they’re actually arguing.

  86. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 4:12 pm |

    You know, I might be misreading you. I was just going off my initial reaction. My apologies.

    My impression from the posts here is that some might not understand this particular part of the legal process and see it as Hillary making some indictment on the victim. I personally don’t see her complicit in misogyny on this one. I see her performing her duty to the citizens she represents, no matter how odious we might find those citizens to be.

    I didn’t mean to imply that Hillary is acting just like the boys with my slapping on the back comment. What I mean is that for the men it’s a back slapping moment; for women, or enlightened men, it’s a moment of ethical dilemma. She gets attacked for having a dilemma. But I was unclear.

  87. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm |

    What you’re saying here is that if you had information suggesting the person accusing your client of rape had credibility issues, you’d either dump your client or keep your mouth shut.

    Actually, I’m saying I’d rather flip burgers until I’m 90 than accuse a known rape victim of asking for it. [We can disagree on whether she did that or not - see Zuzu's comments above, but its my feeling that she did - and you're attacking position based on my feelings]. You’re right that it makes me a bad lawyer – which is why I stick to dv and childrens rights litigation. But I’m okay with that. I can live with putting my own ethics ahead of my legal ethics – I’m not sure I can do the opposite.

    Besides…you had a big “if” in there. She chose to rep that client. She didn’t have to. (Yes, I know it would have hurt her career…that’s not good enough IMO.)

    Qgrrl, the affidavit was requesting a psych exam. Granted we don’t have the affidavit in front of us, but as she didn’t quote a letter word for word I’m going to assume there were other irrelevant bits of that communication that she chose to omit. What she didn’t omit was a fact that I think is essentially irrelevant…this supposed attraction to older men. What purpose did that inclusion serve?

  88. marlisa
    marlisa March 6, 2008 at 4:31 pm |

    Another response, and I think I’m done here.

    I said once in these comments that I regret nitpicking over legal/semantic bs, and have been defending myself endlessly against y’all. Why all these vitrolic attacks?
    Seriously, save them for someone who isn’t on your side – I can assume we are feminists, no?

    I hear what all sorts of people are arguing – she did her job, she’s a woman trying to get power in a man’s world and deserves our support, etc.
    Hear it, but don’t find it remotely relevant to the point. The point (to me) is her past engrained in misogyny, her victim-blaming and hypocrisy on justice for women. Whether other lawyers do morally reprehensible shit doesn’t matter to me, I think it’s all wrong, Hillary’s actions included.

    I want a candidate who will fight for those who are stepped on, spit on and scorned in this country. Victims of all kinds of prejudices and crimes, of systematic inequality.
    I don’t see that candidate in this race, instead I see divisions, sexism and racism among voters and rampant in our media. I see candidates with sketchy shit in their pasts, and I want something better.

    The cynicism I hear in these comments is heartbreaking, and yes, I am listening.

  89. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 6, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    Granted we don’t have the affidavit in front of us, but as she didn’t quote a letter word for word I’m going to assume there were other irrelevant bits of that communication that she chose to omit.

    Since we don’t have the affidavit in front of us, why are you assuming she didn’t quote a letter word for word in it and the reporter left it out?

    You are making a huge number of assumptions based on incomplete information.

  90. Kristen
    Kristen March 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm |

    why are you assuming she didn’t quote a letter word for word in it and the reporter left it out?

    The quote from the affidavit indicates that she did not provide a quotation at all. She stated she had received certain information.

  91. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm |

    Marlisa: I’m middle aged at this point. If Hillary had a long history of similar cases, if she were a pitbull against rape victims, I would feel differently. She was 27, inexperienced, and bound by ethics and requirements. I’m more interested in how she’s grown from her mistakes.

    As far as candidates who will fight for those who were stepped on, I don’t suppose you condemn MLK because he was a womanizer? Or Gandhi sleeping with a bed full of young women to test his morality?

  92. S.H.
    S.H. March 6, 2008 at 4:54 pm |

    Let’s recap…she went after a 12 year old rape victim, except it’s unclear if she did, but she could have, and others have in other cases, and that’s evil, so Hillary’s evil. Just follow the bouncing ball…

  93. zuzu
    zuzu March 6, 2008 at 5:01 pm | *

    The quote from the affidavit indicates that she did not provide a quotation at all. She stated she had received certain information.

    Oh, for the love of Pete.

  94. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 6, 2008 at 5:46 pm |

    “she went after a 12 year old rape victim, except it’s unclear if she did, but she could have”

    I went through and snipped out all the unnecessary bullshit just so it was easier to parse. It seems like the only bits of her “going after” the victim are from one affidavit, which I’m sure was significantly longer than:

    “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing. I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”

    “I have … been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experience and that adolescents with disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to such behavior. She exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”

    It’s apparently one of 19 motions/subpoenas/affidavits filed.

    From the victim: “It kind of shocks me – it’s not true. I never said anybody attacked my body before, never in my life.” From the article: “The victim was visibly stunned when handed the affidavit by a reporter this fall.”

    The affidavit quotes are likely the worst they could find, and the victim says she’s shocked by the contents. While she was a traumatized twelve-year-old and, I’d guess, was not in the best shape to remember every detail of the legal proceedings that ensued…it doesn’t actually sound like Clinton actually had any dealings with her personally or contributed to her being further traumatized.

  95. Sickle
    Sickle March 6, 2008 at 7:50 pm |

    The importance of the subject, again, is how this single case relates to many others, how rape victims are treated in our legal system and cultural attitudes towards their cases. When women are treated in manners similar to this case, it makes it extremely difficult for them to come forward and press charges. It does nothing to counter the rape culture we live in.

    No offense intended, but you really only have half the problem here. Everything thinks it’s the evil criminal defense attorneys going after the poor rape victims. Read the article again. Who was interviewing the victim and driving her to tears? Clinton? Nope, it was the police and prosecutors. They grill these women. They interrogate them, since rapes are VERY difficult to convict. Prosecutors don’t like being surprised. If you look at the literature, you’ll find that one of the most common complaints of rape victims isn’t their treatment by the defense, but their treatment by the police and prosecutors.

    Counties like Alameda in California (Oakland) have responded to this problem by creating an agency for minor victims. This agency (CALICO–http://www.calicocenter.org/) does the interviews and investigations in a very sensitive way. There’s an agency for adults, too, which handles rape victims. I did a serial rape case a few years ago with four victims, three of which were prostitutes. The agency took care of them, though, and all showed up to the hearings and trial and testified, some still high on heroin at the time. None of them wanted to be there, admitting as much on the stand, but were convinced by the agency workers that what they were doing was important. If the same crime had happened in Contra Costa County, the outcome would almost certainly have been very different. (Our client, the defendant, gave up mid-trial and took a 14-year deal.)

    My small firm has carefully researched the impact our investigations have on the potential victims and are very careful not to re-victimize them. We’ve had the parents of minors say that we were far more sensitive and discreet in our interviews than the police were. This has been nothing but a boon for us, in fact. The rape shield laws mean we actually have to do real detective work and find out facts relevant to the charges instead of chasing meaningless crap. (For instance, we didn’t care one whit the victims in the case above were prostitutes; we rightly pointed out to the accused’s family that the facts of the case meant it didn’t matter if they were or not.)

    Most of the people I help represent are guilty. In those cases, my investigations have inevitably just turned up more evidence of the client’s guilt. We’re not in the business of just impugning people because they’re on the wrong side. That’s what the general public does (just look at how horrifically the victim in the Santa Barbara soccer-star rape is being treated by the community, even though her attacker was found guilty).

    Sorry for rambling, but my main point is this: if you really want to improve the quality and quantity of rape prosecutions, you need to start with looking at how the government treats victims, not how we do.

  96. Holly
    Holly March 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm |

    Actually, I’m saying I’d rather flip burgers until I’m 90 than accuse a known rape victim of asking for it.

    I think there’s a point of confusion here. If you look at all the quotes from the affidavit that are in that article, Clinton’s defense was not based on the idea that the victim had consensual sex and then claimed it wasn’t consensual (i.e. she asked for it). It was based on the idea that the sex didn’t happen at all — that the DNA evidence was flawed, that the girl was prone to making up fantasies (about older men, that’s where that line comes in) and false accusations — but in reality, nothing had actually happened. Maybe that’s still a shitty defense, trying to make like it never happened, but it’s a little different than a “she asked for it” defense. And it seems quite possible, especially given the victim’s later surprise about the whole thing, that the evidence of the girl’s fantasizing / false accusations was completely flawed or fabricated. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence or even suggestion that Clinton was the one who made that stuff up. As has already been noted above — if some evidence to that effect was brought to her attention as the defense attorney, she was bound by her duty to report it to the court.

  97. mythago
    mythago March 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm |

    but its my feeling that she did – and you’re attacking position based on my feelings

    Let me see if I understand you correctly: you’re saying that because your position is based on “feelings”, rather than facts, you can’t possibly be wrong?

    And I’m rather disgusted at your implication that it’s OK to be a “bad lawyer” as long as you stick to DV and children’s rights work. Are you really saying it’s OK for a victim of domestic violence to have a shitty lawyer? That as long as you hide in DV and children’s rights, you will *never* have an ethical dilemma, you will *never* have to attack the credibility of anybody except bad guys in order to protect your client’s interests?

    I don’t know if that is what you are saying. But I know many fine attorneys who represent victims of crimes, including abused children and rape survivors. And none of them chose what they do because they thought it would let them be a lawyer without any of the ethical hard parts.

    I honestly have to wonder if you are, in fact, an attorney. Because if I decided that I was going to violate my ethical duty to my clients based on “feelings”, I sure as shit wouldn’t be announcing that fact from the e-rooftops.

  98. exholt
    exholt March 6, 2008 at 9:04 pm |

    My, that was snotty.

    DIdn’t mean to be snotty….just saying what I thought based on my experiences with people who made the “S(he) could always get another job” argument.

    Every person who has made such an argument in my experience tended to be upper/upper-middle class, mostly White, and with an overentitled attitude reeking of ignorance of how most people do not have the luxury of quitting their job/changing careers at the drop of the hat because some aspects do not accord with their personal ethics. This attitude was especially prevalent among most of the economically secure White upper/upper-middle class students at the private liberal arts college which I attended on a near-full scholarship, part-time work, and a no-interest student loan. It was galling to hear them speak as if they knew the unique difficulties and situations of everyone they felt could quit their jobs if they do not accord perfectly with their principles.

    Unfortunately, for the vast majority of working people, giving up a career/job on principle is not an option as those classmates or you may think. As with most working people, Clinton was doing her best to play the difficult hand she was dealt based on the circumstances.

  99. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 6, 2008 at 11:45 pm |

    Let’s recap…she went after a 12 year old rape victim, except it’s unclear if she did, but she could have, and others have in other cases, and that’s evil, so Hillary’s evil.

    Pretty much, yeah. Except that you forgot the part where we’re supposed to declare her unfit to be president and hang her from the nearest lamppost because if we’re not sure what happened and most of the evidence was destroyed, we can only go by the immediate events of that time and not the entire rest of her career for the next 30+ years.

  100. Kristen
    Kristen March 7, 2008 at 10:35 am |

    Okay, last post…promise…then I’m going on a hiatus.

    Implying that a 12 year old girl likes older men in the context of a rape case is repugnant to me. I don’t think it should be part of an attorney’s zealous defense any more than bribing a witness. I KNOW that it is. But I don’t agree that it SHOULD be. I think its an artifact of rape=forcible taking of a *virtuous* woman. I choose not to participate in that continued bs, even if that cost me my job.

    I believe that HRC did that. We can disagree on that particular point…but at the end of the day there is no clear cut evidence. You think it cuts one way…I think it cuts the other. We’re at an impasse.

    This doesn’t mean I think HRC is unfit to be President. It just means I think she participated in an inherently misogynist system and used an inherently misogynistic technique to get the best deal for her client.

    “That as long as you hide in DV and children’s rights, you will *never* have an ethical dilemma, you will *never* have to attack the credibility of anybody except bad guys in order to protect your client’s interests?”

    Don’t be ridiculous. You’re the one who said I never faced an ethical dilemma…not me. There are painful, ethical dilemmas all over the place in particularly in childrens rights litigation. So far I haven’t run up against any that couldn’t be resolved in my clients favor. But if I did…I would find the client another lawyer. I’m not denying anyone anything other than the use of my services. Which may make me a “bad lawyer” in the sense that I don’t contribute to the principle that all people deserve a zealous defense, but it doesn’t mean I’ve violated my obligations to my client.

    But if you’d like to continue the personal attacks or if you’re convinced I’m not a lawyer…why don’t you email me at kristen123456 at live dot com. I’ll share my bar numbers if you share yours.

  101. kac90b
    kac90b March 7, 2008 at 11:31 am |

    Kristen – hopefully…you are flipping burgers somewhere until you’re 90. Family law in this country is fucked up enough without the likes of you thinking you can settle down there and not do too much damage with your Regent Law School degree. Obviously, I am just guessing on that last one.

  102. kac90b
    kac90b March 7, 2008 at 11:32 am |

    P.S. I don’t think anybody here has said they’re convinced you are not a lawyer. You’ve convinced me you are.

    I’ve seen too damn many just like you in the 25 years of my career.

  103. wiggles
    wiggles March 9, 2008 at 1:07 am |

    So being bound by the Constitution to defend her assigned client as vigorously as possible, and despite muddled physical evidence and confused testimony by the girl which practically any other defense attorney would excoriate her for, Hillary convinced her client that to bargain on a guilty plea was the best she could do for him.

    In my estimation that’s probably the least ruthless defense of a rape case I’ve ever heard of.

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